Showrunners 018: Intro to Netflix’s You

Does the Story work?

That’s the question isn’t it?

Welcome to the Story Grid Showrunner Podcast, dedicated to answering this question by using the story grid method developed by Shawn Coyne.

In 2020 we’re focusing on action and thriller stories. Each month we will release 2 podcast episodes. First, we’ll discuss the expectations of the show from seeing the trailer and reading the series descriptions. Then in our second show of the month show, we will discuss the Editor’s 6 core questions and what worked or didn’t work in the series and why and how the writers might have made it better.

Reminder: Please watch the TV Series called You before you listen to the following episode. We not only give away spoilers, but we talk about the global story and it’s just more valuable for you if you know what we are talking about because we reference a lot.


Wikipedia breakdown

Wikipedia describes this as a Psychological Thriller.

Here is the synopsis:

The first season follows Joe Goldberg, a bookstore manager in New York, who meets Guinevere Beck, an aspiring writer, with whom he becomes immediately infatuated. To feed his obsession, he soon turns to social media and technology to track her presence and eliminate any possible obstacles that stand in the way of their romance.


Expectations

Mel: I love the theme of this story.

This guy thinks he has the right to stalk this woman because seeing how openly she shares her life on social media, he thinks he has the permission to stalk her and be part of every private moment of her’s. 

There’s a huge misconception that this guy needs to understand, but from the looks of it with the murders that are going to take place, it’s obviously too late for him. But I do appreciate the idea behind this series to show the audience that even if someone shares their life more openly on social media than others, it’s still their own decision what they let others see and what they do not. And everyone has to accept this. 

But, of course, there’s a danger now for every normal person who is not a celebrity to become the victim of stalkers. It seems this is a cautionary tale that just needs to be told to create awareness for the dangers that can come with social media – more than just shit storms and bullying. So I am expecting a thriller that will use lots of dramatic irony as a form of narrative drive because we as the viewer already know lots more about this guy then this woman he’s stalking. 

We have more information than her but are just the bystanders to see how the events unfold and how he lures her into his trap. I expect that there will be another character, probably a woman, who will take on the role of the heroine to save her friend who has no clue of what’s going on. 

Randy: Reading this I think obsessional love.

I see a couple of possible endings: a standoff (hero at the mercy of the villain, where the hero is the victim is Beck) where Beck successfully defends herself or where a former friend of hers (maybe a boyfriend) intervenes at the last moment, maybe even one we thought was dead previously.

Would the speech in praise of the villain be an actual statement of what a good guy she perceives him to be?  I haven’t read or studied many of these types of stories. I think it will also have a lot of love story conventions/ Obligatory scenes – lovers meet, lovers break up, etc.


Trailer breakdown / expectations

Mel: The trailer starts with the simplest but also one of the most important moments expected in every love story: The lover’s first meet scene. And it leads to the guy checking her out on the internet. I mean, who doesn’t do that when we get to know someone new. We look him or her up on the internet. It’s an action most of the viewers probably can identify with. 

But what makes us, as the viewers, careful about this guy is the conclusion he draws from seeing her public profiles. He says: “Every account set to public. You want to be seen, heard, known. Of course, I obliged.” So there’s a twist to the expected love story. It turns into a thriller because this guy has just justified his reasons for what he’s about to do. In his twisted mind, he got her permission to start stalking her. His attraction for her turns into obsession, which answers what kind of love story we’re about to witness: an obsession love story which we know will probably end badly because it’s a given that love ends badly if the two lovers can’t overcome moral failings or don’t evolve beyond desire. But also, we quickly find out what his obsession leads to and what his motivation, his WANT is. He says: “I’m going to help you get the life you deserve.” 

And as a viewer, I’m hooked because I want to find out HOW he’s going to achieve his goal.

And what I love the most about the trailer is that we would think we’re introduced to the villain. Because the trailer is mainly about this guy and his obsession. But he’s fighting his own villain. He says: “Jealousy got the best of me.” And so once again, the villain sees himself as the hero of his own story.

Randy: This looks like it rides the line between romance gone wrong and Psychological Thriller/ Woman in Jeopardy.  Joe obviously thinks or is delusional in thinking that he knows what’s best for Beck. Looks like he intimidates/ hurts/ kills her friends that might be trying to protect her.  It’s weird, I’ve been hosting another podcast called Selling Girls in America about Human Trafficking in the US, and isolating the victim is a technique that the traffickers use against their victims.  I don’t think this is a trafficking TV series, but it will be interesting to see the parallels between these types of villains. I mean, I guess it makes sense if both types are psychos that they are similar.

We expect a psychological thriller. 


What is a Psychological Thriller?

In this context, I think we should quickly talk about psychological thriller. How it came to be and what it is.

So to answer the first question, I’d love to cite Robert McKee and what he’s written in his book “Story’ about the evolution of the Psycho-Drama: 

“At first there was the Freudian detective story (psychiatrist played ›detective‹ to investigate a hidden crime. Then cops became lay psychiatrists to hunt down psychopaths. Then the detective himself became the psycho (key to justice became the cop’s psychoanalysis of himself). Psycho-Thrillers spoke to this threat, to our realization that the toughest task in life is self-analysis as we try to fathom our humanity and bring peace to the wars within. By 1990 the psychopath relocated to a close friend or family member.”

And that’s what we have right here in this story. It’s the person we learn to trust the most once we’ve fallen in love with them.


What other Psychological Thrillers are your favorites?

Randy: Gone Girl, The Call

Melanie: the Comic book Twisted Dark and the movie Fight Club,  but the ones that come close to this one might be ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ and ‘Rear Window’ – only by looking at the trailer of YOU.

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The Story Grid

Story Grid Book

If you want to learn more about writing a story using the Story Grid methodology, go to the Story Grid Webpage to find free videos and articles on how to implement the methodology.

These articles contain information about the 5 Commandments of Storytelling and the Editor’s 6 Core Questions from the book The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. They also give details on obligatory scenes and conventions for specific genres, such as the thriller, love story, war story, crime story, and more.

For an example of how these techniques are used, read Jane Austin’s The Pride and the Prejudice with annotations by Shawn Coyne.

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